Frequently Asked Questions
My pet has died at home. What do I do now?
If you do not want to or cannot deal with your pet’s after-care yourself, these are some of your options: If you are a client of a local vet clinic, you can take your pet there and make arrangements through them for its aftercare, either with the city or with me. You can bring your pet to me yourself, or you can have it picked up at your home for a small mileage charge.
When you pick up my pet at the vet, how do I know you get the right one?
When you make arrangements through the vet to have Willowrock pick up your pet, there is a form that you must fill out for me. The form asks for your name and contact information, your pet’s name and other basic information including a list of options that you want me to fulfil. You get a copy of this form and the other is folded up and inserted into a pouch which is then attached securely to the body bag your pet is placed in after its death. This system easily identifies all pets that come to the cemetery and allows all necessary information to be sent with them.
How do I know that I get only my pet’s ashes back?
Here’s where you have to trust me to do my job properly. I have been in business for over twenty one years and my reputation is important to me personally and professionally. I know how necessary it is to my customers to feel secure in the knowledge that, when they ask for a private cremation, they get one. So, short answer to this question – I promise.
When the cremation is done, how do I get the ashes?
You can either come to Willowrock to pick them up personally or I can take them back to a vet clinic in Grande Prairie. If you live out of Grande Prairie, I can also mail them to you if you are comfortable with that.
I have some rituals I would like to perform on site. Will I be allowed?
As much as possible, we work with our customers to allow their personal rituals and traditions. We must take into account safety and other issues, so ask, and if possible, you will be allowed.
I want my pet cremated but I don’t want the ashes. What will you do with them if I don’t take them?
Depending on your wishes, we can scatter them, bury them communally, or, for an additional price, bury them in a private plot.
Do I need to buy an urn from you?
No, you don’t need to buy an urn at all. Recognizing that many people choose to scatter or bury their pet’s ashes, I have not included an urn in the basic cremation price. The ashes are put in a plastic bag which is inserted in a cloth bag and then into a cardboard box. If you choose to buy an urn, you can purchase one from me, buy one elsewhere or make one yourself. Any container with a lid can be an urn – it doesn’t have to be something that was specifically made for that purpose. It just has to be a container that you find pleasing to look at.
If I’m buying or making my own urn, how do I know how big it should be?
The general guidelines are one cubic inch per one pound of healthy weight.
I’m going to be extremely emotional the day I take my pet in to be euthanized. Can I make arrangements in advance?
Yes, you can go in to your vet clinic to fill out the form or download it from the web site, fill it out and take it with you to the vet.
What is the difference between private and communal burial?
With a private burial, only your pet is buried in the plot. The plots are numbered so you know exactly where your pet is buried and you are encouraged to install a marker of some type to mark your pet’s grave. With communal burials, more than one pet is interred in the plot, the plots are in a different part of the cemetery and they are not marked in any way. While still dignified and respectful, it is a more modest cost.
If I leave my pet at the vets to be communally buried, can I visit its grave later?
As the communal plots are not marked in any way, we would not be sure which one contained your pet. If you want to have a specific grave to visit, it would be best to ask for a private burial.
If I privately bury my pet, do I have to buy a headstone?
No, you don’t have to but we encourage you to do so – an unmarked grave is a lonely sight. Willowrock offers a wrought iron cross for sale and we can advise you on other avenues to follow for grave markers. We do charge an extra $25 on burials so that if you have not provided a marker by the one year anniversary of your pet’s burial, we will use that money to have a small plaque engraved with your pet;s name to be placed on the grave. If you supply a marker, that $25 is refunded.
Can I bring objects to decorate my pet’s grave?
We allow some decorations, but they must be approved by us to assure that they are not unsuitable in any way. As we like to keep the cemetery as peaceful and natural as possible, we do not approve of solar lights.
Can I get any ashes back if I have my pet communally cremated?
No. When pets are communally cremated, the resulting ashes are a mix of all the pets, and there is no way to separate them. If you want your pet’s ashes back, you must ask for a private cremation.
Can I stay for the cremation and take my pet’s ashes home with me?
No. The process takes up to four hours, not including cool down time for the incinerator. It is best to come back the day after the cremation.
I don’t live here permanently and want to take the ashes back home to scatter them. Will there be a problem taking them on the plane?
This is something only your particular airline can answer. They often require supporting paper work from Willowrock or your vet clinic. They also usually insist that the ashes be in a spill and puncture proof container. Check it out in plenty of time before you go and let me know if you need anything from me. I will be happy to assist you.
Can you cremate horses?
Unfortunately, no. We can only bury them. Our incinerators are rated for 250 pounds.
I’ve heard that other pets in the household will grieve when one dies. Is that true and what can I do to help them?
Even if your other pets do not seem to be emotionally close to the one that has died, they are aware that the household dynamic has changed and they might exhibit behaviors that are out of character. If they were close, they definitely can show signs of grieving, such as loss of appetite, depression, anxiety or searching for their missing friend. Treat them gently, with extra loving and wait for time to help them heal. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that, if possible, having the pet smell the body of their deceased friend allows them to understand that their friend is gone.
I can’t seem to get over the grief of my pet’s death and the guilt I feel for having him euthanized. Is this normal? What do I do?
Yes, this is perfectly normal. You know how important your pet was to you while he was alive. How could you not grieve his loss? Give yourself permission to grieve fully and know that it will take time. Feelings of guilt only make grief harder to deal with. While you know intellectually that the decision to euthanize your pet was the right one, it is difficult to acknowledge emotionally. If you are struggling, there are many pet loss support groups who will assist you. I have included some of their information along with a general overview of the grieving process in the grief section of this web site. Hopefully, you will find the information helpful.